08th Nov2012

TBA evaluation schedules

by Ken Clarke

HAMPSTEAD – The TBA season about to heat up and those looking to participate this year must participate in this year’s evaluation before the upcoming draft. The following is a schedule for this year’s evaluation:

EVALUATIONS: All players MUST attend a player evaluation. Evaluations will be at Topsail Middle School gymnasium on the following dates and times:

November 4, 3:00 – 5:00 pm: Make up evaluations (except high school boys)

November 8, 6:15 – 8:00 pm:  High school boys

* Division is dependent upon the number of registrants.

07th Nov2012

Nobody asked me but – One season down, another
on the immediate horizon

by Lee Wagner

Nobody asked me, but…Let me first start this week’s edition with a sincere congratulations to all in Patriots’ country. In my weekly football previews I indicated how much I would have liked to pick the Pender High School football team to win last Friday over Wallace-Rose Hill but I felt the home-field advantage would be a bit too much to overcome, and I felt they had to play a near-perfect game to move into the second round of the NCHSAA 1Astate football playoffs.

Obviously the home field meant nothing to this group of determined Patriot footballers, and they played – I assume – that near-perfect game to advance. Congratulations go out to Coach Tony Hudson and his staff, and to all associated with the huge win.

Good luck this Friday. Go kick some Red Devils’ butt!

As for Dixon and Topsail, which both lost in the first round of their respective playoffs, don’t let that last loss ever erase what you accomplished this season to get this far

Dixon had what some people are saying was their best season since the 1960’s, and they finished second behind Southwest Onslow in the Coastal Plains 1A Conference. The Bulldogs should have had a home game for that but the NCHSAA selection committee had other ideas, and for some reason Dixon had to not only go on the road, they had to play at playoff-savvy and playoff-experienced Goldsboro, and the Cougars just proved to be a little better on this night.

Congratulations on an excellent year. Hold your head up high and remember you all helped put Dixon football back on the competitive map.

Topsail, too, had an excellent year, finishing third in the always-tough East Central 2A Conference behind unbeaten Northside and East Duplin. The truth is, with a little better attention to detail, that East Duplin loss should not have happened, and the loss to Pender – how often did Alec Webster miss a short field goal attempt in his illustrious football kicking career?

It’s always tough to lose that last one, but be proud of what you have accomplished. Remember there are a plethora of teams in this state who didn’t make the playoffs, and many who also exited in the first round, so what you did – and where you went – is something of which to be proud.

Over in Titantown things went a little sour. They lost their coach in mid-season to illness, and really never recovered. Still, they never quit and Coach Bill Mercier and that staff, and those players deserve a lot of credit for sticking with it and competing, regardless of the opponent or the scores.

Way to go, Titans!

Staying with that theme what do you think about the volleyball teams in our area!

Topsail won its third-straight East Central 2A Conference title, and went unbeaten in all of those years (2010, 2011, 2012). They had a winning streak of 44-straight games in conference, and I think that should be 48 since they beat Clinton, South Lenoir, Croatan, and a very toughest East Duplin team in the first four rounds of the playoffs before running into a very good team in South Granville.

Dixon shared the title in the Coastal Plains 1A Conference with Southwest Onslow, and kudos go to Coach Heather Moore and the Lady Bulldogs for overcoming adversity, injury, and a player defection to accomplish all of that.

Pender won the Tri-County 1A Conference and Coach Matt Davis and his girls were spectacular in the playoffs. Looking back to 2011 – when an excellent group of girls that won two-straight NCHSAA 1A state championships graduated, and when long-time Coach Ray Horton retired – it would have been easy to write off this group.

But Matt Davis stepped right in and kept up the winning tradition at Pender, and the Lady Patriots did an amazing job.

Trask also did well. Most teams have one or two really standout players – a strong and powerful hitter and a superstar setter – but the Lady Titans really had neither. What they did have was an enthusiastic coach in Karen Byrd who believed in them, and a group of girls that worked very hard to be competitive in the Tri-County 1A Conference loaded with teams like Pender and Lakewood.

There are many things to remember about your seasons – one and all. The first is you were successful. Participating in an extra-curricular activity in high school, that’s really a special accomplishment. The balancing act of academics, sports, and any semblance of a social life for most teenagers is a tough thing, and you all did it with determination and class.

Great job!

That’s what I think, what do you think?

Nobody asked me but…I am really looking forward to the upcoming winter season. Over in Hampstead I think the Topsail teams – boys’ and girls’ basketball and wrestling – are all in for good years.

In Holly Ridge, keep an eye on that boys’ basketball team under Coach Phillip Durr. They have a lot of talent and this could be a break-through year for that program. The girls have some good players back, although as usual they lack height, but they will be scrappy. And Coach Dal Tomlinson always puts out a competitive wrestling team.

Trask had two of the hardest-working coaches I know in Rodney Orr and Lindsay Noble, and I think both of those hoops’ teams will be competitive. Wrestling is a question mark as the Titans, at last call, are still looking for a head coach.

Pender is a bit of an unknown entity. The boys’ basketball team has some potential but they lost several good players to graduation. Rest assured, veteran Coach Gary Battle will find a way to make them competitive.

The girls’ team is in flux. The Lady Patriots had a really terrible year last year and they need an infusion of young talent to get back to the level they were in the Janetta Robinson and Jaquetta Gresham years.

The wrestling team always seems to be battling a numbers’ game, and I would assume – at this point – that is not any different.

That’s what I see, what do you think?

06th Nov2012

Aerial game propels Cape Fear Middle School to title

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Several years ago, before all of the players on the Topsail High School football field on Monday afternoon were born, former Ohio State University Coach Woody Hayes said, “There are three things that can happen when you throw the football, and two of them are bad.”

Obviously Hayes was not a proponent of the forward pass but his, “Three yards and a cloud of dust,” offense served him well as the Buckeyes had a plethora of excellent seasons under Hayes.

Monday the football team from Cape Fear Middle School put on an aerial performance that might have changed Hayes’ mind, and the end result from an offense that is – according to several sources – rare on the middle-school level – served up an unbeaten season, and a county championship.

Seventh-grader Tyrease Armstrong showed off an impressive arm for such a young player by completing 6-of-11 passes for 221 yards, accounting for all of the Grizzlies’ points through the air, as Cape Fear captured the Pender County Middle School championship with a convincing 30-14 win over Topsail Middle School on Monday on the Topsail High School gridiron.

Cape Fear finished the season with a 6-0 overall record, and a 2-0 mark in Pender County as they defeated Burgaw Middle School 12-0 earlier in the year. The Grizzlies disposed of Burgaw, South Brunswick, Shallotte, Cedar Grove, Leland and Topsail during their unbeaten trek through a six-game season.

Topsail finished the year with a 2-4 record, beating Cedar Grove and South Brunswick, and losing to Whiteville, Burgaw, Leland, and Cape Fear.

“This is my third year here and we didn’t have a whole lot of success the first two but I think there is a new wave of kids coming through here,” Cape Fear’s energetic young Coach William Bell said. “These kids did a great job all year and no one can ever take away from them the fact they are the 2012 Pender County Middle School champions.”

In Bell’s first two years the Grizzlies won one combined game. The win last year (2011) ended a three-year winless streak. Cape Fear, which has been open 12 years, last went unbeaten in 2005, but it’s been a downhill spiral since then – until this season.


There was definitely a contrast in styles displayed on the field on Monday, with the Grizzlies dominating through the air, and the young Pirates showing off a solid ground game.

In comparison, Cape Fear had 221 yards through the air and just 25 yards running the football while Topsail garnered 221 yards on the ground –led by the hard-running Aaron Beach with 97 yards – and zero yards in the air. The Pirates’ only pass attempt resulted in an interception.

Cape Fear kicked off to start the game and the defense produced a four-and-out. A short Pirates’ punt gave the Grizzlies possession on the Topsail 35-yard line, and it took them just four plays to capitalize on the short kick.

Speedy eighth-grader Steven Jordan gained 21 yards on the first play but two losses on running attempts sandwiched around a four-yard gain, left the Grizzlies with a fourth down at the Pirates’ 10-yard line. That’s when Armstrong found Tyler Smith behind a Topsail defender for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 3:02 remaining in the first eight-minute quarter. A running play for the two-point conversion failed, leaving the Grizzlies with a 6-0 lead.

That advantage increased to 14-0 with 3:40 remaining before intermission after the Cape Fear defense stymied a Topsail drive four yards from the end zone. A running play lost three yards, backing the Grizzlies to the one.

But Jordan got behind a Topsail defender and Armstrong lofted a near-perfect pass that dropped into his receiver’s arms around the 35-yard line and it was off to the races as Jordan completed a 99-yard scoring play. A pass from Armstrong to Nic Richardson accounted for the two-point conversion.

It looked like the Grizzlies were going to completely run away with the game when Armstrong found Zenas Ward for a 75-yard touchdown pass on Cape Fear’s first possession of the second half. Armstrong then found Jordan in the corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion, and a 22-0 lead just 30 seconds into the second half.

Topsail fought back to close to within 14 with an eight-play, 54-yard drive, all on the ground, with Alex Holland capping the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run and Beach bursting in for the two-point conversion.

Topsail was driving again on its next possession but an interception by Cape Fear’s Ward stopped the drive. Ward returned the pick to Cape Fear’s 48-yard line, and five plays later – along with two encroachment penalties against Topsail – Armstrong hit Richardson for a 31-yard touchdown, following that up with a two-point conversion pass to Ward.

“The defensive line of Topsail stepped up and stopped our running game, and we had to throw,” Bell said. “We have a good quarterback with a strong arm and he put it on the money tonight. And give credit to the offensive line that gave him some time and gave the receivers a chance to get behind their defenders.”

With time running down, the Pirates tried to get back into the game. A 56-yard drive that encompassed just three plays ended with a 41-yard scoring run by Parker Davis – the son of Topsail High School Coach Bryan Davis. The strong Beach ran it in for the two-point conversion but it was too-little, too-late with just 19.2 seconds left on the game clock.

“We preached all year to the kids to buy into the system and believe, and now they are the unbeaten county champions,” Bell said. “I am so proud of these kids and I appreciate what they did – all of them – all year long.”

Cape Fear      6-8-8-8=30

Topsail            0-0-8-6=14

First Quarter

Cape Fear – Tyler Smith 10 pass from Tyrease Armstrong (Run failed), 3:02

Second Quarter

Cape Fear – Steven Jordan 99 pass from Tyrease Armstrong (Nic Richardson pass

from Tyrease Armstrong), 3:40

Third Quarter

Cape Fear – Zenas Ward 75 pass from Tyrease Armstrong (Steven Jordan pass from

Tyrease Armstrong), 7:30

Topsail - Alex Holland 9 run (Aaron Beach run), 3:07

Fourth Quarter

Cape Fear – Nic Richardson 31 pass from Tyrease Armsrong (Zenas Ward pass from

Tyrease Armstrong), 1:45

Topsail – Parker Davis 41 run (Run failed), 0:19.2

Team Statistics:      Cape Fear          Topsail

First downs                       6                       9

Rushing                        10-25               36-221

Passing                      6-11-221              0-1-1

Penalties                       1-10                   6-55

Fumbles/Lost                  0/0                    1/0

Punts                         1-18-18.0           1-10-10.0

Individual Statistics: Rushing – Cape Fear: Steven Jordan 6-19, Joseph Chung 3-16, Nic Richardson 1-minus-10. Topsail: Aaron Beach 15-97, Parker Davis 1-41, Trey Ayers 4-15, Dillon Pinkston 9-30, Chris Nixon 2-5, Alex Holland 5-33. Passing – Cape Fear: Tyrease Armstrong 6-11-221. Topsail: Alex Holland 0-1-0. Receiving – Cape Fear: Zenas Ward 2-78, Nic Richardson 2-34, Steven Jordan 1-99, Tyler Smith 1-10. Defense – Cape Fear: Steven Jordan 9 tackles, Zenas Ward 5 tackles, interception, Tyler Smith 2 tackles, 2 sacks (minus-13 yards), Joseph Chung 4 tackles, L. J. Ballard 2 tackles, Matthew Cather 2 tackles, Tyrease Armstrong 2 tackles, Hunter Westbury 2 tackles, Kyle Hancock 12 tackles. Topsail: Hank Jacobs 3 tackles, Chris Nixon 2 tackles, D. J. Frazier 2 tackles, Dilon Pinkston 1 tackle, 1 sack (minus-10 yards).

04th Nov2012

Huge second half lifts North Pitt over Topsail

by Lee Wagner

BETHEL – Good and experienced football coaches will always tell you there are three aspects to the game of football – offense, defense, and special teams – and you really need all three areas to function to be successful.

Friday night, in the small Pitt County town of Bethel, one of those important parts deserted the Topsail High School football team, and it kept the Pirates from advancing to the second round of the NCHSAA 2AA state football playoffs.

Topsail’s sophomore quarterback Austin Schoenleber threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers but it was not enough to offset two special teams touchdowns and a strong ground game by the home-standing Panthers as North Pitt scored 27 second-half points in a 48-27 win over Topsail in the first round of the NCHSAA 2AA state playoffs in Bethel.

The Panthers (8-4) now have the unenviable task of traveling to Jacksonville to face Northsiide (11-0) next Friday. The Monarchs defeated East Central 2A Conference foe Croatan 47-10 this past Friday.

Topsail’s season ends with a 7-4 record that included a conference mark of 5-2. There were two games in the regular season – a 22-20 loss to Pender on a late missed field goal, and a 26-21 defeat at the hands of East Duplin on a last-second touchdown return of a blocked punt, that could have changed the direction of the season, but 7-4 is still a season to be remembered, especially by this senior-laden (17) group.

“They were much more physical than we were and they got us twice on special teams with a kickoff return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown, and they were momentum killers,” Topsail Coach Bryan Davis said. “It’s always hard to get over losing, especially when it winds up being the last game of a season, but the worst part of losing is I’m not going to get another chance to go to practice on Monday with this group.

“I love these kids, they were awesome, and it’s the best crop of seniors I’ve ever coached. This was a resilient group that overcame a lot of injuries and the season-ending loss late in the year of three very important pieces of the puzzle – senior starters Palmer Rice, Ben Houghten, and Derrick Session – but they never gave up and they played hard right up to the end.”

Four of those seniors were huge contributors to the Pirates’ offense as Mason Kimmel, Hunter Jacobs, Devin Williams, and Trevor Savidge were all on the receiving end of Schoenleber scoring tosses.

Topsail actually led 7-0 early in the game when Schoenleber hooked up with Kimmel for a six-yard touchdown that put the finishing touches on a 14-play, 82-yard drive. Senior kicker Alex Webster added the extra point.

North Pitt got the equalizer when Davion Council weaved and bobbed his way through the Topsail defenders en route to a 60-yard punt return. Panther Brian Staton gave North Pitt a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter (8:49 remaining before intermission) with a 15-yard scoring jaunt, and Staton scored again on a four-yard run to increase the Panther’s lead to 21-7.

Topsail managed to close to within eight at 21-13 when Schoenleber found Jacobs for a16-yard score but the PAT attempt went wide, leaving the Pirates on the short end of a 21-13 halftime score.

That became 21-20 when Williams hauled in a Schoenleber throw and raced in from 21-yards out, and Webster connected. But the special teams let Topsail down again, this time when Cedric Razor took the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to pay dirt to jump the Panther advantage up to 28-20.

A two-yard run by Razor and a 38-yard scoring burst by Staton, who finished with 240 of the Panther’s 357 yards on the ground, made it 41-20 entering the final quarter, and a 44-yard run by Razor ended North Pitt’s scoring in making it 48-20.

Schoenleber then found Savidge with a two-yard pass with just-under two minutes left in the game to account for the final score.

“It was a good season,” Davis said. “Now we’ll just take some time off and spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our families, and see where it goes from there.”

The returning nucleus is there with Schoenleber entering his junior year, along with running back and linebacker Josh Jessup, wised-receiver and defensive back Clark Cota, and tight end and linebacker Jakeem Smith all returning

03rd Nov2012

Dixon football season ends with 40-0 playoff
loss to Goldsboro

by Lee Wagner

GOLDSBORO – It would be easy to say it just wasn’t the Dixon High School football team’s night but that would be simplifying the events that took place in Goldsboro Friday in the opening round of the NCHSAA 1AA football playoffs.

The truth is they got run over by a very good Goldsboro football team and it’s a good bet that this last loss – as it always does – will leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Bulldogs’ players and coaches.

But that bad feeling should not linger, what should remain in the hearts and minds of the players, coaches, and their fans is the fact this Dixon football edition won seven games, finished second in the Coastal Plains 1A Conference, and has a truly wonderful season – one they should be proud of for a long time to come.

They simply ran into a buzz saw in a one-and-done situation.

Rasheed Malette ran for 190 yards on 22 carries in pacing a Cougars’ run game that accounted for 265 yards on the ground and four touchdowns, and the home team’s defense completely stymied the Bulldogs’ offense as Goldsboro advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 40-0 shutout win over Dixon in Goldsboro.

Goldsboro (10-1) advances to face Northampton (10-1) next Friday. Northampton advanced with a 42-32 win over Riverside-Martin. Dixon ended one of its’ finest seasons in recent memory with 7-4 record that included a 4-1 mark in conference action.

“Goldsboro did a good job,” said Dixon Coach Ray Swaney in an interview with the Jacksonville Daily News. “They had a couple of big plays and they just pulled away.”

Dixon hung tough early as the first quarter ended with the two teams locked in a scoreless deadlock. But Goldsboro began to pull away in the second quarter, scoring first on a two-yard run by quarterback Julius Murphy after a blocked punt set the Cougars up on the Dixon 25-yard line. Luke McAlduff hit the PAT to make it 7-0 just 13 seconds into the second quarter.

It became 14-0 with 129 seconds remaining in the first half when Goldsboro’s Karon Alston returned a punt 41 yards for a touchdown, and McAlduff again connected on the point-after.

Goldsboro then took the second-half kickoff down the field to make it 21-0 on a one-yard plunge by Asunji Maddox with 3:57 expired off the third-quarter clock, before virtually putting the contest out of reach on an eight-yard scoring sprint by Toric Best with 3:30 remaining in the third stanza.

Malette scored again at the 7:10 mark of the final period on a 38-yard scoring run, and Alston put the punctuation mark on the victory when he returned an interception 24 yards for a score just 1:01 later.

Dixon’s senior quarterback C. D. Hansley ran for 70 yards on six carries and completed four passes for 18 yards. Malik Simmons had 33 yards on 10 carries, pushing him past the 1,000-yard mark in rushing yards for the year.

“I am real proud of the way these kids played this year.” Swaney said.

Dixon              0-  0-  0-  0=  0

Goldsboro      0-14-12-14=40

Second Quarter

Goldsboro – Julius Murphy 2 run (Luke McAlduff kick), 11:47

Goldsboro – Karon Alston 41 punt return (Luke McAlduff kick), 2:09

Third Quarter

Goldsboro – Asunji Maddox 1 run (Luke McAlduff kick),

Goldsboro – Toric Best 8 run (Kick failed), 3:30

Fourth Quarter

Goldsboro – Rasheed Malette 38 run (Luke McAlduff kick), 7:10

Goldsboro – Karon Alston 24interception return (Luke McAlduff kick)

Individual Statistics: Rushing – Dixon: D’Angelo Williams 11-17, Malik Simmons 10-33, Bian Dubrey-Moore 2-11, Robbie Wyble 2-9, c. D. Hansley 16-70. Goldsboro – Rasheed Malette 22-190, Asunji Maddox 6-25, Toric Best 2-12, Julius Murphy 1-2, Karon Alston 4-14, Rasheed Rawlings 1-25, Taylin Davis 2-2. Passing – Dixon: C. D. Hansley 4-14-18, Robbie Wyble 2-5-20. Goldsboro: Julius Murphy 3-14-85. Receiving – Dixon: Robbie Wyble 2-12, Nick Rizzo 1-16, Micah Coleman 1-4, Williams 1-3. Goldsboro: Rasheed Malette 1-25, Toric Best 1-49, Joseph Baker 1-11.

02nd Nov2012

NCHSAA Football Playoffs schedule

by Lee Wagner

(Friday, Nov. 2):

1AA East (Seed is overall seed):

No. 9 Dixon (7-3) at No. 4 Goldsboro (9-1)

No. 13 Camden County (6-4) at No. 2 Southwest Onslow (9-1)

1AA Mideast:

No. 14 Pender (5-5) at No. 7 Wallace-Rose Hill (7-3)

No. 16 East Montgomery (4-6) at No. 1 James Kenan (10-0)

No. 12 Lakewood (7-3) at No. 4 Union (6-4)

No. 15 Midway (5-5) at No. 5 Red Springs (8-2)

1A East:

No. 12 Rosewood (3-7) at No. 7 Lejeune (5-5)

No. 14 Jones, Sr. (2-8) at No. 6 Southeast Halifax (7-3)

2AA East:     

No. 10 Topsail (7-3) at No. 8 North Pitt (7-3)

No. 16 Croatan (6-4) at No. 1 Northside-Jacksonville (10-0)

No. 13 Southwest Edgecombe (5-5) at No. 6 East Duplin (9-1)

No. 15 North Brunswick (6-4) at No. 5 Bunn (8-2)

2A Mideast:

No. 15 Whiteville (4-6) at No. 3 East Bladen (7-3)

No. 14 Clinton (5-5) at No. 4 South Columbus (9-1)

3AA East:

No. 8 Cleveland (9-1) at No. 7 West Brunswick (5-5)

3A East:

No. 7 Jacksonville (7-3) at No. 6 Rocky Mount (8-2)

3A Mideast:

No. 16 South Brunswick (2-8) at No. 3 Eastern Alamance (9-1)

4AA East:

No. 9 Hoggard (8-2) at No. 8 Southern Durham (6-4)

No. 14 Southeast Raleigh (6-4) at No. 5 New Hanover (9-1)

No. 15 Pine Forest (6-4) at No. 1 New Bern (10-0)

4A East:

No. 13 Laney (5-5) at No. 2 Middle Creek (10-0)

02nd Nov2012

Area high school state football playoff previews

by Lee Wagner

Each Friday Topsail News Online’s Lee Wagner will give a breakdown of each game our four local high school football teams will play. The feature will include breakdowns for not only our local team but their opponents. Stay tuned each week


WHERE & WHEN: At North Pitt High School, Bethel, 7:30 p.m.

COACHES: Topsail – Bryan Davis, 7th year (40-25); North Pitt – David Boal.

SEASON’S RECORD: Topsail is 7-3 after wins over Swansboro (14-7), Richlands (41-6), Croatan (32-14), Clinton (28-14), South Lenoir (47-20), Ashley (26-7), and Trask (16-13), and losses to Pender (22-20), Northside (35-10), and East Duplin (26-21). North Pitt is 7-4 with wins over Beddingfield (20-19), Farmville Central (34-6), Southwest Edgecombe (27-24), Northern Vance (49-7), Greene Central (42-20), Ayden-Grifton (30-18), and South Creek (54-6), and losses to Kinston (28-16), Tarboro (41-24), D. H. Conley (28-24), and Washington (28-20).

LAST PLAYED: Topsail beat North Pitt 13-10 on Nov. 5, 2011 in first round of playoffs.


NEXT OPPONENT: Winner of this game plays the winner of game between Northside (10-0) and Croatan (6-4).

KEY PLAYERS FOR NORTH PITT: K Octavio Alonso, QB Christopher Perry, RB Brian Staton, RB Cedric Razor.

KEY PLAYERS FOR TOPSAIL: Sr. RB/OLB Devin Williams, Soph. QB Austin Schoenleber, Sr. QB/WR/OLB Matt Gilgo, Sr. TE/DE Trevor Savidge, Sr. TE/LB Mason Kimmel, Sr. OL/DE Ben Houghton, Jr. OL/LB Jakeem Smith, Sr. PK Alex Webster, RB/LB Josh Jessup, RB Hunter Jacob.

FOR NORTH PITT TO WIN: Not knowing what type of offense or defense the Panthers play, the only thing we can go on are results and statistics. They have scored 340 points (30.9 per game) but 220 of them have come against teams with a combined record of 15-43. They have given up 220 (20.9 per game) – 41 of them to unbeaten Tarboro. So they can score and they play shaky defense. They need to move the ball consistently against the Pirates to keep their defense off the field and rested. When their defense is out there then must stop the run and see what happens. If they turn the ball over with any regularity it will be a long night in Bethel.

FOR TOPSAIL TO WIN: If healthy this is a pretty darn good, and versatile, football team so it would appear the Pirates should be able to move the ball, they just need to do it with sustained drives. Defensively don’t give up any big plays, make the Panthers get to the end zone by grinding it out, and creating a few turnovers on defense wouldn’t hurt, either.

PREDICTION: Topsail beat North Pitt 13-10 last year and I think this is a better Pirates’ team. It’s tough that they have to play on the road but that’s due to the stupid loss to East Duplin. If healthy I think the Pirates are good enough to beat this team. Healthy means Williams and Jessup need to be at full strength. I also like the fact they have a guy named Alec Webster kicking for them. Winner gets the prize that is unbeaten Northside and I think the Pirates would relish that opportunity.

Topsail  24, North Pitt 13.


WHERE & WHEN: At Legion Stadium, Wallace, 7:30 p.m.

COACHES: Pender – Tony Hudson, 2nd year (8-13); WRH – Joe Price.

SEASON’S RECORD: Pender is 5-5 with wins over Trask (34-0), Lakewood (38-17), Midway (46-13), Hobbton (52-0), and Topsail (22-20), and loses to WRH (28-14), James Kenan (40-20), Union (35-28), Whiteville (41-18), and North Brunswick (21-16). WRH is 7-4 with wins over Hobbton (47-25), Pender (28-14), Union (27-13), Trask (38-0), Midway (13-10), Lakewood (27-24), and Whiteville (27-16), and losses to James Kenan 21-20), East Duplin (38-6), New Hanover (28-7), and Clinton (14-7).

LAST PLAYED: WRH beat Pender 28-14 on Oct. 12, 2012.

COMMON OPPONENTS: Both teams have played their entire Tri-County 1A Conference schedule and both have played Whiteville. Pender lost to Whiteville, James Kenan, and Union, and WRH beat Whiteville and everyone else in the conference except James Kenan.

NEXT GAME: Winner of this game plays winner of game between Red Springs (8-2) and Midway (5-5).

KEY PLAYERS FOR WRH: FB/LB Dion Kenan, RB/D Qayle Robinson, K Brian Pacheco.

KEY PLAYERS FOR PENDER: Soph. FB Sam Dixon, QB Nickey Wells, OL/DL Kymothy Murphy, OL/DL Jacob Dew, RB/LB Caleb Johnson, WR/S Rashawn Deloach, RB/CB Julius Powell, G/DE Zach Jones, T/DE Andre Donaldson

FOR WRH TO WIN: The Bulldogs rushed for 215 yards – 102 in the second half – in a game that was tied 14-14 at the half the last time these two teams played. They must do at least that if they want a second win over the Patriots. Defensively they need to play the entire game the way they did in the second half against Pender, holding them to 10 yards rushing and a total of 44 offensive yards in the last 24 minutes of the game.

FOR PENDERTO WIN: WRH is good and has a set of hard-running and quick backs, and Hudson and the Patriots know that, and they know they must contain that running game if they have any hopes of an upset – yes, it would be an upset – here. Must run the ball consistently, hold onto the football, and finish drives with six, not three or less. Defensively make the Bulldogs throw the ball and let’s see if they can win that way.

PREDICTION: Oh how I’d love to pick Pender here! But WRH is good and they played tough against a very good James Kenan team a week ago, and I think they will be hungry for another shot at the Tigers. That said, if Pender can generate a full game of offense, and slow down the Bulldogs’ rung game, who knows?

WRH 24, Pender 21.


WHERE & WHEN: At Goldsboro High School, Goldsboro, 7:30 p.m.

COACH: Dixon – Ray Swaney, 4th year (17-27); Goldsboro – Eric Reid.

SEASON’S RECORD: Dixon is 7-3 after wins over Lejeune (33-12), East Carteret (41-16), Jones Sr. (27-13), Pamlico (37-14), Spring Creek (33-7), Princeton (24-20) and Mattamuskeet (34-0), and losses to Southwest Onslow (48-19), Swansboro (30-22) and North Duplin (28-24). Goldsboro is 9-1 with wins over Ayden-Grifton (30-25), Spring Creek (61-12), Princeton (56-16), Rosewood (54-0), North Duplin (41-18), Red Springs (34-78), Southern Wayne (37-14), C. B. Aycock (14-7), and Eastern Wayne (48-26). Their only loss was in their season opener to powerful 4A New Hanover (67-6).

LAST PLAYED: Have not played in last 12 (since 2004) seasons.

COMMON OPPONENTS: Both teams have played Princeton, North Duplin, and Spring Creek. Goldsboro beat all thee by a combined score of 131-41 Dixon beat Princeton by four and Spring Creek by 26 but lost to North Duplin by four.

NEXT GAME: The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Northampton (9-1) and Riverside-Martin (6-4).


KEY PLAYERS FOR DIXON: Sr. QB/S C. D. Hansley, Sr. C Travis Padgett, Sr. TE/DE Bryan Moore, Sr. T/DT Austin Rosensteel, Sr. DT Jake Strong, Sr. DT Eric Parker.

FOR GOLDSBORO TO WIN: This bunch can really score, having racked up 381 points in 10 games (38.1 per game) while giving up just 19.2 per game (192). Don’t know much about their offense or defense but if they can move the ball consistently against a pretty good Bulldogs’ defense and do not turn the ball over, they will put points on the board. Defensively, contain Dixon’s Hansley and see where it goes from there

FOR DIXON TO WIN: This one is going to be all about defense and the Buldogs must find a way to slow down this explosive offense or it will be a very long night. Best way to beat a good offensive team is to keep their offense on the sidelines with long sustained drives, don’t turn the ball over, and get some turnovers of your own. All three will be needed if Bulldogs are to survive.

PREDICTION: Scoring stats (Goldsboro scores 38.1 per game and Dixon averages 18.8 per game) says this has all the makings of a blowout but there have been several games in which the Bulldogs have gone against the odds and won. Still, Cougars look really tough and they have a playoff history, and a playoff record 9-5 since 2007 and I think that is a huge advantage against what could potentially be a starry-eyed Dixon group. Plus the Cougars have annihilated three common foes by a combined 90 points, and Dixon beat two of them by a combined total of 30 points before losing to North Duplin. Comparative scores mean little, I know, but….

Goldsboro 35, Dixon 14.

01st Nov2012

Topsail cross country advances to state finals

by Contributor

HAMPSTEAD - The Topsail Pirates Cross Country team has advanced  to the NCHSAA state finals after placing second in the Men’s race and third in the Women’s race at the NCHSAA 2A East Regional Championship held Saturday at Boyd Lee Park in Winterville.

The Topsail men’s team finished second overall with a score of 75 followed by Beddington (101) and Swansboro (102). Richlands finished first with a score of 63. Topsail senior Brady Woods finished ninth overall (out of 99 runners) with a time of 17:47. Woods set a school record two weeks ago by running a 17:04 in the conference championship race.

The women’s team finished third with a score of 91. Swansboro finished first (31) followed by Croatan (56) and fourth-place Clinton (118). Topsail freshman Rachel Medlin finished eleventh overall (out of 78) with a time of 21:41.

“We had some very strong senior leaders this year,” assistant Coach Lisa Theriault added.  “Seniors Brady Woods, Rachel Quindlen and Haley Williams have worked hard to shave their times while also helping to develop some of the younger runners on our team.  They’ve set us up with a strong foundation for next year.”

“It was a good day for Topsail High School and a great day for Topsail Cross Country” coach Wayne Rogers said. “The freshmen runners were outstanding,”

State finals will be held this Saturday, November 3rd in Kernersville at Beeson Park.

01st Nov2012

Lady Pirates’ excellent year concludes at South Central

by Lee Wagner

CREEDMOOR – It has often been said that sports mirrors life in so many ways. You get the minor ups and downs, the kinds of things that make you happy one day and sad the next. You get that extra feeling of elation when you win the biggest of big games and the sadness and – yes, tears – that comes from those heart-breaking losses.

Saturday evening the girls on the Topsail High School volleyball team had one of those huge moments when they staged an amazing come-from-behind win over East Duplin in the NCHSAA 2A state volleyball playoffs, but Tuesday evening the ball bounced the other way and an amazing season put together by a group of amazing young ladies came to a sudden end.

What will be remembered for a considerable period of time is that final game, that final loss. What hopefully will be remembered for a long, long time in the hearts and minds of these Lady Pirates and their fans is a season that exceeded the expectations of many and, for five very special group of departing seniors, a career that was filled with – as the folks at ABC’s Wide World of Sports used to proclaim, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

Senior Carlie Smith had 17 kills, nine service points, four blocks, and 11 digs, and teammate and classmate Angie Poage ended her illustrious four-year varsity career with 16 points, 21 assists, a kill, and 14 digs but it was not enough to stave off a power-hitting group of Lady Vikings as South Granville defeated Topsail 3-0 (12-25, 15-25, 16-25) on Thursday in the Eastern Regional final of the NCHSAA 2A state volleyball playoffs in Creedmoor.

South Granville (23-5) now moves on to face North Surry (32-2) on Saturday in the 2A state championship game at North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum.

The Lady Pirates see a season come to an end in which they won their third-straight East Central 2A Conference title, complete a third-consecutive unbeaten conference season, won 44-straight conference games (Maybe it should he 48 since they beat conference foes Clinton, South Lenoir, Croatan, and East Duplin in the playoff run) over three-plus years, and advance to the East Regional final of the state playoffs.

Even in defeat it must be remembered that these girls were one of only four teams out of approximately 92 schools in the 2A classification playing on Tuesday – and that is a  major accomplishment.

“They had too many hitters and we were limited to getting production from our two middles (Smith and sophomore Kayla Hyatt), and that’s the most serves we missed in any playoff game,” Topsail Coach Hill Pearsall said. “They’re (South Granville) good. They have two girls that can put the ball down, and they simply had more power than we did.”

That showed early in the first game when they used an 11-1 run to break open a 4-4 tie game behind four kills, a block, and an ace. Lady Vikings’ senior Mary Catherine Preddy, who is headed to North Carolina State on a full volleyball scholarship, led the way in the opener with six kills, two blocks, and three aces.

The Lady Pirates really never recovered from that onslaught, and they were never able to get any sustained runs going. For the most part, the rest of the game, the two teams exchanged points but the damage was already done.

There were no ties in the second game as the Lady Vikings jumped out to a quick lead and never really looked back. It was 7-2 after the first two service exchanges and, again, it was an exchange of points pretty much the rest of the way.

The Lady Pirates did finally get their first three-point surge but the score was already titled to the South Granville side of the scoreboard at 21-14 after the run.

One thing about the Lady Pirates they do not go down without a fight, and they fought hard in the third game. Along with Smith and Poage, Hyatt, Reagan Holloway, Lacey Akerley, Sarah Woodward, and Chandler Skipper kept battling.

The game was tied at 2-2, 4-4, 5-5, and 6-6 before a four-point surge gave the Lady Vikings some breathing room at 9-6. But while the Lady Pirates continued to struggle in putting runs together, the Lady Vikings would get two or three to Topsail’s one until the advantage increased to 18-12 in South Granville’s favor.

The Lady Pirates gave their fans a flash of hope with a three-point spurt but South Granville answered with a four-pointer, and they closed out the game, the match, and Topsail’s season from there.

“We came out a little scared I think and our defense was off,” said Poage through tears. “We weren’t setting up the blocks right and they had some really good hitters. It just wasn’t our night.”

Topsail will lose Smith, Poage, Akerley, Darnell, and Kaleigh Bordeaux to graduation, and they certainly will all be missed. Pearsall declared Poage and Smith, “The best setter/hitter combination I have ever coached,” and each of those other seniors took their turns contributing big points and stellar leadership to a successful year.

Smith is being recruited by several schools, among them Catawba, Campbell, and UNC-Wilmington, and Darnell and Bordeaux are headed to some college on softball scholarships. Poage will more than likely wind up playing somewhere but on this night she was concerned her volleyball days might be behind her.

“This has been better that I ever expected, especially this year, and we have become so much of a family it’s sad to think it’s time to go our separate ways. I hope to continue playing in college but there is nothing positive yet, and it’s hard to think it might be all over.”

Topsail moves to the Mid-Eastern 3A/4A Conference next year, and the cupboard is not bare. Skipper, Woodward, Holloway, setter Jenna Register, and defensive specialist Sammi Proulx are all juniors – as is hitter Ali Broadbridge – and Hyatt is as sophomore, and Annie Jonson will joint them from the junior-varsity squad.

“We talked before the game that, win or lose, it’s been a season to be proud of,” Pearsall said. “Now we’ll take a little time off and take the summer to see what the returning girls do, and go from there.”

Topsail            12-15-16

S. Granville    25-25-25

Topsail: Carlie Smith 9 points, 17 kills, 4 blocks, 11 digs; Angie Poage 16 points, 25 assists, 1 kill, 14 digs; Kayla Hyatt 9 points, 11 kills, 2 blocks, 11 digs; Reagan Holloway 2 kills, 7 digs; Chandler Skipper 15 digs; Sammi Proulx 5 digs; Summer Darnell 3 kills, 1 block 1 dig; Sarah Woodward 3 points, 5 assists, 1 kill, 1 block, 5 digs; Lacey Akerley 2 points, 1 kill, 3 digs.

S. Granville: Mary Catherine Preddy 17 kills, 3 blocks, 3 aces; Logan Bradshaw 7 kills, 1 ace; Jenna Davis 5 kills, 1 block; T’Keyah Davis 4 kills, 3 aces; Casey Ellington 4 kills, 1 ace, 1 block; Summer Williamson 3 kills, 1 ace; Cayce B ell 1 ace.

30th Oct2012

Nobody Asked me but – Many coaches, fans
unhappy with football playoff matchups

by Lee Wagner

Nobody asked me, but……….In conversation with some coaches and fans of some of the football teams involved in the upcoming NCHSAA football playoffs there are mixed feelings of elation that their respective teams are in the playoffs, yet a plethora of serious discontent as to the first-round matchups and the potential second-round games.

Let’s take a minute, first, and defend the NCHSAA. It’s not easy to establish matchups that are fair to everyone, or that will make everyone happy. I served as the media seeding representative for several years in South Jersey for the Region 7 wrestling championships and the state championships, and I can tell you we worked our butts off trying to be fair – and we still had complaints.

One thing we tried to do was keep wrestlers who had already faced each other – some several times – away from each other in the early rounds, especially if their earlier bouts were close and competitive and if they were obviously the best wrestlers in a specific weight class.

I am sure doing that type of seeding for whatever number of high-school football teams that have qualified for the playoffs can be overwhelming.

But there are some curious first-round, and potential second-round matchups that raise questions. Perhaps the one that seems to merit mention first in the 1A category.

Dixon has had one of its best seasons in many, many years. They traveled to Lejeune last Friday to face the Devil Pups for second place in the Coastal Plains 1A Conference – looking for a potential first-round home game, which would have been the first in school history. Dixon beat Lejeune 33-12, thus securing the conference’s runner-up position.

Now, for reasons I do not like, the NCHSAA has decided to break down the classifications into 1A and 1AA, 2A and 2AA, and so on. There is only one legitimate reason for this, and I do not care what anyone else says, and that’s’ money – revenue. The more games, the more money goes into the association’s coiffures.

That’s partially understandable because in this specific day-and-age everyone wants to make money, and the NCHSA has payroll and other bills to pay like everyone else.

But the honest truth is there are teams in the playoffs that really shouldn’t be there. In New Jersey and several other states – money aside – you have to have at least a .500 record on a specific cutoff date to even qualify for the playoffs.

So why don’t we eliminate the teams with losing records, combine either the East and the Mideast brackets, at the very least, and maybe eliminate the single and double letter classifications.

Let’s go back to 7-3 Dixon. Because they are classified 1AA they have to go on the road and face a perennial playoff contender in Goldsboro (9-1),. Meanwhile Lejeune 5-5) –because they are in 1A – gets a home playoff game against 3-7 Rosewood. Where, pray tell, is the reward for finishing second?

If you eliminate East and Mideast – and I don’t want to hear the travel excuse, we’ll address that in 2AA – then you have Dixon (7-3) playing WRH (7-3) in the first round with the winner facing the winner of the game between Pender (5-5) and Goldsboro. Goldsboro gets a home game, and maybe here, Dixon gets one.

Okay, but what about travel expenses, and I say look at 2AA. Topsail (7-3) has to travel to North Pitt (7-3) while North Brunswick (6-4) has to travel to Bunn (8-2). Where’s the travel savings there? And how about sending North Brunswick to Topsail for a bigger gate and a small mileage assessment?

The 4A classification is wackier!! Hoggard (8-2) has to go on the road to face Southern Durham (6-4) because – somehow – Southern Durham is a higher (4 vs. 5) seed. Huh?

The Vikings have only lost to 10-0 New Bern and 9-1 New Hanover, who also lost to New Bern. Hoggard’s reward for winning a first-round game would be a trip to New Bern in the second round.

This one is simple to fix – move the Southern Durham vs. Hoggard game down in the bracket, and play it at Hoggard, and move the Clayton vs. Knightdale game to the upper bracket. That way, assuming New Bern, Hoggard, and New Hanover all win, you get a big-gate, small-mileage matchup in the second round between New Hanover and Hoggard.

It seems to me that one serves all the criteria – low mileage costs and huge revenue. So does the potential North Brunswick at Topsail matchup.

That’s what I think, what do you think?

Nobody asked me but………I know the folks in Beulaville probably won’t agree with me but I saw what I think was the finest volleyball match I have seen in my 25+ years of journalism on Saturday.

East Duplin, which had lost twice during the regular season and in the playoffs up to that point, with both losses coming at the hands of Topsail, came to Hampstead to face the Lady Pirates for a third time.

East Duplin, led by an excellent and dynamic coach named Elizabeth Turner, took a two-games-to-none lead over Topsail, and they were celebrating on the court and in the stands like crazy.

But Yogi Berra once said, “It’s not over until it’s over,” and this one wasn’t. The Lady Pirates rallied to win the third game 25-13 and you could feel the momentum begin to swing. Topsail then dominated the Lady Panthers in winning the fourth game 25-9, and the signs of eventual defeat – hands on hips, blank stares on their faces, jabbering between players on the court – began to appear on the East Duplin side of the net.

It seemed as if the Topsail girls sensed that, and they went out and destroyed – the only word that applies – East Duplin 15-2 in the final game, and the celebration shifted sides as the team and the fans – many of them the very supportive Topsail football players – rushed onto the floor to surround and rejoice with the Lady Pirate players.

That wonderful television show ABC’s Wide World of Sports used the theme, “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat,” and it was never more in evidence that after this contest – the joy on one side and the tears on the other.

I’m not sure the East Duplin faithful would agree with me here but 21-3 and the fourth round in the playoffs is one heck of a year, especially considering your only losses came to one team. I think there is a lot to be proud of here.

That’s what I think, what do you think?

Nobody asked me but…….I picked the right two teams to appear in the World Series in San Francisco and Detroit, and I think that’s pretty cool even if I didn’t win a fortune on my prognostication.

But my thinking was the Tigers’ hitting – combined with the Giants having to see Justin Verlander at least twice – would make Detroit the favorite and I went that way here in my column.

But the old adage, “Good pitching beats good hitting,” once again reared its head and, to my surprise, the Giant players hit the heck out of the baseball – especially Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval.

So, congratulations to the Giants! They deserved to win.

That’s what I think, what do you think?